This Call Is Finished

I took a telephone call yesterday from a noisy location. The caller was a young woman who purported to be a student at WA University. And who also purported to be asking questions connected with the alumni association.

Her voice was rapid and her name was somewhat unclear – but her questions were intrusive. Confirming address, etc. I was evasive, stating that the alumni association already had my address. To her questions about my career I also gave vague, but truthful answers.

To her request for $ 50 per month contribution to a scholarship…and then for an immediate $ 100 contribution…I gave a polite but firm refusal.

My daughter, who works in the financial section of a rival university, said that the call was most likely genuine – a result of students assigned to try to get money out of people on an old-student list. Possibly, but it could also have been a number of other things.

I think my best bet in the future is to remind myself not to engage in answering questions on the telephone from someone I have never met. I shall politely decline and civilly press the hang-up button. This will also serve when I receive subcontinental calls.

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” Contents May Have Settled “

How often do you see this on the outside of a packet of food; ” Contents may have settled in shipment. “. Whenever I encounter it I am beset by a number of questions:

a. Was the box or packet ever full at the start of the process? Or did you throw the cornflakes in from across the room in the hopes that they would form a magical geodesic structure and support the inside of the box?

b. Was the box designed for the contents or was it designed just to be as big – as well as brightly coloured  – as possible…to attract the eye of the unsophisticated shopper? We’ve all seen the laundry detergent packets.

c. Is ” content settling ” the same as crumbling to powder at the bottom of the box? Did we buy the breakfast equivalent of a spoonful of sugar spun into cotton candy – only to have it resolve itself back to the spoonful as soon as heat or moisture hit it? Do we, in fact, have any right to corn flakes or just to corn powder? Is powder considered to be just tiny little flakes?

d. Why does raw liver never settle in the packet? Why is it always bulging out there?

e. What do you expect us to do with the packet that has settled? Are we to turn it upside down, shake it, and magically it will become filled again? Tried that once with dynamite that had sweated out of the sticks and you can swim in the crater after rain fills it.

f. How far do you have to ship stuff anyway? Can we not make food closer to home so that it doesn’t have to travel three seas and five roads to get to us? Is it time to go back to eating what is local? ( The answer to that is yes, and for a number of reasons…)

g. Why doesn’t liquor settle in bottles – so you could skim off the water on the top and pour out the good stuff from the bottom.

 

 

The Two-Star Rating…

I’m sorry to have to tell you that my dinner one night last week only got a two-star rating. That low number was a worry but the most concerning thing about it was the fact that I wasn’t involved in the measuring process  – someone else who packaged it got to do the  pre-dinner criticism.

I actually thought it was a pretty good meal – I put a frozen Herbert Adams beef and mushroom pie into the oven for 60 minutes and was rewarded with a beef and mushroom pie. It had beef and mushrooms – to which I added gravy, peas, and spinach. Meat, pastry, gravy, and two kinds of greens seems to meet some of the goals of the world – it certainly met mine. But the fact that there was a star rating on the side of the packet raises a few questions:

a. Who does the rating? Nowhere on the package does it say.

b. What actually do they rate? Taste? Texture? Amount of gluten? Amount of Lewisite?

c. What is the scale of the rating? 1 is poisonous and 5 confers immortality?

d. Is this a load of bullshit? If it is, is it mandated bullshit or just some advertising executive’s way to fill up a blank space on the cardboard package?

I note that the next package in the freezer – a Herbert Adams chicken and leek pie has gotten three stars…and a logo that says RSPCA Approved Farming. Begging the question whether the beef pie was frowned upon severely.

Being a chicken pie, I guess it would not contain bullshit. But the sauce is white and I’ve seen what chickens do in the chicken run…

 

I Am Not A Monster

While I admit to being a senior citizen, model maker, and studio photographer – serious charges in themselves – I must deny the assertion that I am a monster of cruelty. I do not mock the afflicted nor harass the indigent. I am kind to animals, with the exception of mosquitos and cockroaches. I obey traffic signs and harsh words from the wife.

Thus, when I receive evidence that a friend has fallen for some sad internet hoax, I do not point the finger of scorn. I take pity upon them and remain silent. This is not the silence of collusion – it is commiseration. I, too, know what it is to be fooled by plausible tricksters…and I’ve lost money to them. The last thing I should want when I finally detect  fraud is to have to bear scorn as well as loss.

Friends – there are any number of trolling, fyshing, scamming productions that can come through your social media or through general searching on the net. Whenever you see something that is either too good or too bad to be true, it is just that. You do not need to fear, nor to react, to any of it. But if it helps to relieve a little of the tension, by all means open up the Snopes website and see if the thing that is troubling you has been debunked there. In most cases you will find that this is so.

Even with the most innocent of enquiries, answers can be harvested that will do you or someone else harm. The best thing to do is not give any answers on the net. Anything that you need to ask or answer can be dealt with between you and your physician, dentist, lawyer, religious adviser, or 6th grade home room school teacher. If it is really heavy-duty stuff you can call in a policeman or a magistrate. These are the individuals who have real power for good in your world. Depend upon them.

The internet has been a blessing for a lot of us – I mean, who wants to go out into the street looking for a cat on a rainy night when you can get a picture of one on Facebook? But it is a cursèd blessing, and the curse is the easy way it makes nonsense sound like truth.

Remember that if you forward this to ten of your friends, nine of them will wind the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll and the tenth will use bunched up newspaper…

Profession, Trade, Or Business?

That used to be the big question for people setting out on a career. Then it became a question of semantics as each category tried to define themselves – in most cases they tried to make out that they were better than the other two.

Now the field of definition has widened. Australia’s got more people idle for more reasons and there are new classes of occupation to examine. Consider these views, but remember that the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia is not an equal-opportunity employer…

a. Job – something you do to get eating money.

b. Work – something that you might have to do on the job.

c. Business – a job that involves other people giving you money. Unfortunately they expect something in return.

d. Trade – a business in which you are expected to be skilled at doing something that other people can’t do. You get to wear a uniform, drive a tray-top ute badly, and fail to keep appointments.

e. Profession – a trade that you only get if you put up with the annoyance of education after the age of 18. You’ll get a chance to make lots of money but there will always be some statutory body to take it away from you if you annoy their hierarchy.

f. Occupation – a catch-all phrase for anything from chicken-sexing to being a politician in South Australia.

g. Calling – something you want to do but feel the need to pretend that God wants you to do it as well to make it sound better.

h. Hobby – something you want to do that you don’t get paid for.

i. Avocation -a posh name for a hobby.

j. Pursuit – a hobby that starts to veer onto vaguely criminal lines.

k. Racket  -a fully developed pursuit.

If you are perfectly honest with yourself, you can find exactly where upon this scale of activity your daily routine takes you. If you are prepared to use the adjective ” perfectly ” to qualify the word ” honest “, you may care to start at the bottom and work up…

 

 

” Based On Your Facebook Profile… “

We suggest that you bathe more regularly and stop calling for the Dalai Lama to be impeached. Despite what you say, he was born in Hawaii and has the hula moves to prove it.

We appear to have had all our Facebook information sold to people who want to sell us time-share tea tree multi-level sweepstakes tickets to help starving kittens. I, for one, am keen to participate. I’ve made that clear in the Facebook profile picture that shows me standing next to the howitzer and the vat of warm glue. It’s no mystery, and no-one need apologise for the transaction. Indeed, I have been getting a great deal of pleasure looking at the advertisements that want to hook me up with a Russian sheep.

I’m a little less sanguine about the side-bar that reports the news of the world. If I wanted news I’d buy a newspaper or a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanack. If I wanted science I’d read the Political Review Daily and if I wanted politics I’d read Scientific Zambian. No, what I want from a sidebar is the real stuff – opportunities for online gambling and pictures of leprechauns. I’m a big boy now –  make that gambling leprechauns in onesies.

I admire and respect Mr Zuckerberg for apologising for something that he got caught at…particularly as he owns all the money in the world anyway and he got a lot of it by doing exactly what he’s apologising for. What’s the bet that he’ll make money out of the apology…

I’m thinking of starting a social network up our street. I already know when the neighbours fight and what their favourite foods are – because they cook a lot of them with the lids off and frankly from some of the odours I don’t thing they have a painted wall left inside their houses….

We do not need to share things as we already share cats…or the cats share us. I have a lot of posts I’d like to suggest and a lot of people I’d like to be suggestive to.

I think that we need to chill out for a bit and just regard the social media like Facebook and the others as on-line versions of a Cirque de Soliel. It has plenty of colour, an unpronounceable name for each new show, and a French Canadian who can balance on a bucket. What more could one possibly want?

How To Increase Your Blog’s Traffic/Likes/Money/Power/Bloodlust

I have been receiving likes recently from a number of different sources:

a. People who wish to read what I write.

b. People who wish that I would like what they write.

c. People who wish I would send them money to read about how to get money from other people.

d. People who have impossible names but dwell in a place called outlook.com.

I am pleased and flattered to receive communications from the first group. Their praise, even if it is only a click on the computer keyboard, is a kindly act and I thank them for it. Their joy is one of the reasons I write these columns daily.

The second group is also welcome – because many of them write about interesting things and some of them write well. The ones who combine those two features are on my little reading list. I’m afraid I do not do all that well with poetry and certainly don’t pursue political blogs very far, but I do give everyone a read at least once to see if I will enjoy going back.

The third group really flag themselves as soon as you see their summaries on the ‘ like ‘ email. If the answer to getting more money was to ask people to send you more money…well I could do that unbidden. I don’t do so for a number of reasons – some of them practical and some of them moral.

It may help this group to know that I write for the pleasure of exercising memory and developing thought. A well-crafted essay launched is instant reward, whether or not it is subsequently praised by others.

The fourth set of people are not people as such – they are probably a robotic scam program that is manipulating statistics for some purpose. I delete them from the emails and dismiss them from my mind. Presumably the WordPress people will get on top of this flood of nonsense eventually and it will dry up.

I should welcome more people reading my essays. I refuse to do circus tricks to try to produce this result. Though I wouldn’t mind a pair of clown shoes or a some spangled tights…